A few days in Rome
It may be just as crowded as the Bride of the Sea but Rome was a lovely change of pace after a visit to Venice and while it was still largely expensive and heavily populated with tourists, there were still parts of the capital which offered a more intimate experience and an escape from all the noise.
Accommodation in Rome
Traveling to Rome was entirely painless too, for the express train took just three hours to reach the city centre and it even seemed as though a trip to the airport would have been less convenient. Another pleasant surprise was how easy it was to find the accommodation and after a short walk from the station we reached the Airbnb apartment which was also everything we could have hoped to find. Clean, nicely decorated and housing every necessary appliance, it may not have been the cheapest place to stay in Rome but considering the owner needs to cover a $25 city tax per person, it was certainly reasonable and provided great overall value. It' worth mentioning at this point that hotels in Rome or even guesthouses can be priced at more than $300 per night but if you travel with a small group, the cost will obviously seem a lot more affordable.
In our own experience, when we took a first glance out the living room window and saw the stunning Basilca di Santa Maria Maggiore staring back at us, it was clear we had found a real gem.
Why did we decide to visit Rome?
Essentially we decided to visit Rome because most of us had never been and then more to the point, each of us had a keen interest in anything historical, not least my mother who has a degree in European history from Vandy University. Hence, we would need an entire week to see the museums and this was to prove just the right amount of time as there was literally an endless number f attractions to see in Rome.
What attractions did we find and things to do in Rome?
Morning at the Colosseum
We rented a small car on arrival, ut was perfect for exploring the outer parts and surroundings of Rome although that being said, we did not have any itinerary or schedule for the first few days other than to explore the local cuisine and fine wines in the region. Speaking of wine, if you have ever sampled wine in Italy, then you will understand when I say it is often a genuine highlight of a visit .
Strolling around the neighborhood in the morning we found a lovely bakery called Panella for breakfast, one which we would return to every morning afterward, and then continued on foot to the immense and striking Colosseum. Arriving at the spectacle, a mob of touts were waiting to sell us tickets to fast track our entry but we decided to wait it out and contrary to what you might, we had a great time huddled up in line, excited to be in majestic Rome and then thankful to have found some shade to hide from the sun.
However, lady luck was also shining down on us that morning as when we got inside the main gate ,we noticed that nobody was monitoring the line up for fast track and you could simply step into that line without paying and without any trouble at all. Morale of the story: you can be fast tracked into the Colosseum without paying for a ticket.
Visit to the Vatican City
We had a birthday to celebrate the next day and decided the Vatican City would be the perfect place to do so. To be honest, I would highly recommend you don't do it during the summer months like we did crowded is not the word.
Guided tours of the Vatican last for 3 hours and tickets are available at the many vendors outside but we are not so much interested in being on a schedule and so just paid the standard 16 entrance fee which also includes the Sistine Chapel.
There are many incredible photo opportunities in the Vatican but unfortunately, the sheer size of the crowds were a little overwhelming and this takes a lot away from the experience.
The crowds disappeared somewhat as we arrived in St Peter's Basilca but overall, we were pleased to leave such was the crowded nature of everywhere we went.
That night things improved quite a lot as we enjoyed some fine local food and then drinks in the extravagant Pierluigi, many of them were spicy for some reason but as you can imagine the food was world class. Restaurants can be quite pricey in Rome so make sure to check the cost before ordering anything such as the special of the day, some people find this out the hard way when they receive a bill of $250 per person for a starter and two main courses.
Is Rome worth a visit and the expense?
We missed out on quite a lot of the main attractions in or visit to Rome (the Trevi Fountain being one) but all in all, this was an incredibly fun few days. With a little bit of research we could have visited the Vatican when it was less busy and when Rome was less crowded but we still had a wonderful trip with many highlights and memories.
Many of the attractions can feel more touristy rather than authentic but as we found, a simple stroll around the neighborhood and through the local cafe's will take you far from the common places and leave with you nothing but a small piece of Rome for yourself.
If you have never been before, there is no reason not to go and we can guarantee the hardest part of your trip will be in deciding which of the amazing things to do in Rome, you are willing to miss out on.